This evening I went to a jewellery class. I attended last autumn for 10 weeks. Today a short 5 week course started. It was lovely to catch up with Sam, the tutor, and a couple of participants from last year.
The course is for silver clay. This time Sam has added in resin as well as the cost of silver clay (known as PMC or Art clay silver) is so expensive. Typically, in the UK, 7g costs around £18.
It’s a fascinating medium to work with. when it first became available, people referred to it as silver alchemy. Tonight I used just shy of a full 10g pack. I used a birdie cutter and 2 moulds that I had made – one from a cowell shell and one from the button stash that I took charge of after my Gran passed away. (She’d collected all sorts for years and years)
I’ve misplaced the button that I used to make the mould (I’m very disorganised) but even if I never find it, I have the mould! (along with hundreds of other buttons!)
I can’t actually post a photo of finished products due to the nature of the material. It is a combination of teeny tiny particles of pure silver combined with water and an organic binder. This gives it the feel of a porcelain clay.
- The first stage is to create your shape/form. It quickly starts to dry out and crack. As it has a clay consistency it takes on detail and texture very easily.
- The second stage is for the clay to dry out completely. If it hasn’t dried out pockets of moisture can create bubbles. This is best done over a few hours at ambient temperature but can be speeded up using, for example, a hotplate on a low setting.
- The third stage is to fire the piece. This burns off the organic binder and sinters the metal. As water and binder are no longer present, the finished piece shrinks by approx 10%. This further enhances the texture/pattern. After firing, it is 99.9% fine silver! (sterling silver is 92.5%)
- Finally, the piece needs to be burnished/polished. This can be done by hand or using a tumbler.
Anyhow, I’m rambling!!! it’s such a remarkable product and there are some amazing silver artists out there.
The photos I have posted are very boring! … just the moulds and the clay that has yet to dry! After they’ve dried I will sand and refine them. I may fire them tomorrow so I can post photos that might look a little prettier! ;-)